Distinguished Science Alumni Awards 2005
LUI Pao Chuen Lionel
BSc(Hons) 1965
Chief Defence Scientist, MINDEF
Professor LUI Pao Chuen Lionel is a true pioneer in the development of science and technology in Singapore. He was one of the first scientists who joined the new Ministry of Defence in 1966, initially taking charge of Test, Evaluation and Acceptance. He was a pioneer in managing large scale programmes, including the establishment of the integrated air defence system for Singapore in the seventies. He has made innumerable contributions to the build up of science and technology capabilities in Singapore for benefits of not just in defence but also other areas with major national impact.
Within the defence arena, Professor LUI was a key mover in the establishment of the scientific and engineering support capability for the SAF. Some of his important creations include the Technical Department, the Science and Management Group, the Special Projects Organisation, Defence Material Organisation, and, most important, the establishment and execution of a masterplan to build up the engineering capability in MINDEF. He also contributed to capability in life sciences by chairing the Board of Regents for the Defence Medical Research Institute from its founding in 1993 to its absorption into Defence Science and Technology Agency in 2000. All in all, his work in the Ministry of Defence laid a strong foundation and contributed in a major way to the success of DSTA, established in March 2000.
As newly appointed Chief Defence Scientist in 1986, he carved out a new portfolio that generated many important initiatives in the Ministry of Defence. Many of the initiatives have resulted in very significant operational capabilities today, including some new ones still in the execution phase. In this work, which must remain classified, Professor LUI has always demonstrated a vision and willingness to think out of the box probably unmatched anywhere in Singapore.
As Chief Defence Scientist, Professor LUI also contributed significantly to the build-up of science and technology capabilities for the nation as a whole. He was a key mover in building up capabilities in the National University of Singapore that supported the nation. Some examples are the Laboratory for Information and Signal Processing (LISP) which grew into the Centre for Remote Sensing and Information Processing, and the Tropical Marine Sciences Institute, a key capability for our marine environment. As Chief Defence Scientist he moved policy level initiatives to tap the universities and national research institute's capabilities. Some of the defence R&D investment had therefore gone to establish national facilities such as the Compact Range and the National Wind Tunnel. The cumulative effect of the work with the universities led eventually to the establishment of Temasek Laboratories to manage them. These capabilities not only support defence but have vital roles to play in the national economy.
His strong support also led to pioneering work on underwater shock studies between MINDEF and NUS, the capability ultimately leading to the establishment of the Centre for Computational Mechanics and subsequently the Institute for High Performance Computing.
The latest initiative to take root is the Temasek Defence Systems Institute in the National University of Singapore which is a strategic collaboration between NUS and the US Naval Postgraduate School to establish Singapore as a centre for Defence Systems Engineering. The first batch of students and the first courses are now being conducted. This will have spin-offs in systems engineering for the national economy.
Professor LUI was called upon for major national duty many times due to his proven vision and systems engineering abilities. He made significant contributions to the studies for the Electronic Road Pricing systems for the Land Transport Authority, studies on Changi Airport, and the protection of vital facilities against terrorism. He was the pioneer in establishing Operations Research capability in the Ministry of Defence, which led to expansion of system engineering capability that was tapped nationally in these large projects.
Professor LUI also excelled as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, teaching a highly popular course on Large Scale Systems for over ten years. This is a unique contribution to systems engineering education in Singapore, born out of his involvement in many large scale systems engineering studies in Singapore. He received the inaugural Teaching Excellence Award for Adjunct Staff at the National University of Singapore for his contributions in this area.
One of his most recent achievements is the opening up of the underground space in Singapore for exploitation. He provided guidance and top level leadership to the DSTA team that developed the Underground Ammunition Facility which has proven the feasibility for Singapore to tap underground space in an economic manner. As a result of this work, many government bodies are now studying the use of underground space to overcome land constraints in Singapore, with potentially very important national benefits.
Throughout his career, Professor LUI Pao Chuen has demonstrated a visionary zeal in pursuing the national interest, and the courage to back unconventional, out of the box and innovative solutions. He is truly a pioneer Systems Architect and a role model for future generations.
For his consistent and outstanding leadership in the build up of science and technology capability for the nation and its exploitation for major systems of national impact, Professor LUI Pao Chuen is awarded the National Science and Technology Medal 2002.
"To make a difference in the world you must dare to dream, to do and to deliver."